Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mr. India

What if when on a walk down the street, you were to meet India - the man? How would you recognize him? What will he look like and what sort of person will he be?

Let’s see.


Without the shadow of a doubt, he would be a man of huge build, roundabout seven feet tall, conspicuously rising above every other person around. But even for a man so tall, he would look rather smallish, as if the lord above had tried to put too much into that seven feet frame. The muscles on his body would bulge rather awkwardly, almost as if it wasn’t being able to hold them intact anymore, as if the flesh would tear the skin and come out anytime now, as if it was too heavily packed.

The body would not make any sense at all as a whole. It’ll look as if different parts of it had been taken from totally different individuals, and then put together to make one continuous piece. The left hand might be shorter than the right, one part of the body might have a lot more hair than the others, and the legs might be too thin for a man with such bulky arms. To put it in a nutshell, the body would give a rather incongruous look.

Several parts of his body would give the appearance that they don’t actually belong there, that they were striving to cut off from the main, that they wished to be independent. One of the arms or legs might just be hanging precariously, as if it was almost ready to fall off, as if Mr. India was just barely managing to hold on to it. Such complexities would of course be a cause of great worry and even pain for the man. There would a constant wince on his face, he would always look to be in great distress.

As far as his mental framework is concerned, he could be called A Psychiatrist’s Delight. A one-in-a-trillion sort of man. Quite obviously, a person with such unique physical characteristics wouldn’t be completely relaxed in the head. In fact, with such remarkable variety inherent, he would be someone totally confused about his identity, about what he really is. As mentioned before, his mind and body would make no sense as a whole and he would spend hours, days, months, years, and decades trying to give some meaning to it, to find his ‘identity’.

He would also be a man totally clueless about his past. He’ll remember the events alright, and he might take great pride in the victories he’s had over other individuals and feel deep shame over his innumerable defeats, but would not able to pinpoint why things happened as they did. In fact, a closer look would tell you that he is not even interested in learning about that, that he is close to being completely ignorant about himself. Whatever conceptions he has about the past might just be nonsense, something just jumped to without proper thought or reasoning. He might even tell you that he was once called the The Golden Boy by his friends at school, but that might actually be something only his mother called him to make him feel happy. On the other hand, there might be truth in his claim but you would find it rather hard to believe seeing his present state.

As far as the present and future go, he would tell you that his condition is far better than what it was some time ago. He would say that things are getting better for him by the day and people in his neighbourhood have started acknowledging his presence around the place. He would tell you that his financial condition might not be fantastic as of now, but his business is moving in the right direction and things are bound to get rosier. The only thing bothering him is his health, he would say, the unique assortment of body parts, the various components always threatening to slide away.

All in all, he would be a man like no other. One thing that you could say with sureness about him is that he’ll be a singularly kind man, the sort anyone would like to become friends with. He might not be the strongest, or the largest, or the most intelligent person around and he certainly won’t be the richest of them, but he’ll be unique, a subject of envy to his neighbours and of great awe and wonder to everyone else.

As said before, Mr. India would be A Psychiatrist’s Delight. A one-in-a-trillion sort of man.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Own Little Museum

My room is a museum of sorts. Only a very dirty, disorganised one. This is how it looked about a month ago and I daresay it still looks the same, if not worse.

And as I’ve always wanted to give the place an ‘exotic’ look, there is a lot of stuff borrowed, or shall I say incorporated, from outside too. Like –

1) KJ’s red-and-black Bridgestone bag – That worked its way into my life about a year back and to its credit, has been able to find itself a nice permanent spot in here, next to the almirah, on the floor. K had been kind enough to give it to me for a Diwali trip back home and for no apparent reason, she never got it back.

2) KJ’s white socks – I really feel no shame at all in telling you folks that I borrowed a pair of grey-white socks from a girl. It happened on a cold November evening last year, when K seeing me shivering rather violently in my Bata slippers, took pity and gifted me the pair with warmth-filled tears in her eyes.(Though she later claimed that she merely lent it, didn’t gift it, but you know whom to believe, don’t you?)

3) GA’s Walkman – The thing is a bit scary. It looks like something straight out of Star Wars, with a shiny blue body and silver outlines. Very techno, if you know what I mean.

And that’s not the only reason it’s scary. Once I pushed the PLAY button and I heard a man speaking, as if for an interview. There was a lot of disturbance on the tape but I was attentive enough to catch some words like – communist, sweat, toil, revolution, affected districts etc. I jumped on the STOP button then and there and have never touched the thing again. It has been lying undisturbed on my room-mate’s table for almost two weeks now.

4) GA’s jug – That is another one of those things my ex-room-mate left behind as part of his legacy. This is a brown-coloured water jug made up of brass which looks like something the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan would have loved to keep in his living room.

5) Someone’s headphones – Now this is slightly weird. Believers might take this as an act of God. Atheists, on the other hand, might shrug their shoulders and say that I need to pull my brain socks up and stop thinking too much.

Whatever you wish to take it as, here’s the story. I found this pair of Frontech headphones on my table last April. I have absolutely no idea how it got there. When I first saw them, I thought I was still half-asleep and seeing things. So I went off to brush my teeth and when I came back, they were still there. I left my room to bathe, came back, and they were there, as before. I stayed out all day, busy with lectures and labs, and in the evening, when I came back to my room, they hadn’t budged from their position even the wee bit.

Now all I want to say is that I never believed these headphones had supernatural power and would fly off suddenly, while I was away. But I thought that somebody might have left them on my table the previous night and would, sooner or later, come and claim it back. No one actually did; I call them my own now.

6) GSN’s slippers – That’s the latest import. A very simple pair, blue in colour, of Bata, made in India. It’s a very long story of how this ended up here and I’m too tired to write about it now. Maybe, I’ll put up another post with the details later. For the time being, let’s put it all down to Divine Will.

Well, that’s just six of them. There are countless other articles, some visible, some hidden which previously belonged to some other human being. As I've said before, I just brought them over here to add spice to the place, to my little museum.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Surface Extract

A piece of text from Siddhartha Deb’s Surface:

A long time ago, when the world was a far better place than it is now, there was a divine couple, a god and a goddess deeply in love with each other. Their love was so perfect that a quarrel broke out between the two about who loved the other more. Even the court of the gods couldn’t settle the dispute, so the two agreed to put their love to the test by being born in human form. The challenge was to see who recognized the other first. They would have no knowledge of their heavenly past, being in possession of nothing more than average human memories of their human lives.

They are born in different corners of the kingdom of Manipur, she as a princess, he as a commoner. The years of their childhood pass in ignorance of each other, without a single encounter. Then the commoner comes to the court from the village one day, and they meet accidentally in the palace, and they recognize each other in the same instant. Their love is still without imperfection, still equal, but just then a battle breaks out between factions in the court and both are killed in the fighting. The dispute is unresolved.

So they take birth as human beings again, and again, and again, and each time the same thing happens. They meet as adults, recognize each other instantaneously, the kingdom is pitched into a war, and they die in the ensuing battle. People in Manipur believe that when things are very bad in our human world, when it is a time of war, it means that the two are around in human form, slowly drifting towards each other. Each is looking at the other without really knowing it, attracted towards the partner by the force of their divine love, and the terrible battle of our times will coincide with their mutual discovery.

……Their coming together in the human world with death following immediately is a sign of the perfection of their love and how it can’t be contained within the imperfection of our world. But there will be a time when they meet and admit that it is a draw, that they love each other equally, and that there is no more or less for either of them. They will see, they will recognize their love for each other, and they will not die. When that happens and their contest is over, our world will end in the final apocalypse.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


Another straight question(s) –

What does it mean to be a man, at this present moment, with millions of millions come and gone before you, and countless yet to come?

What does it mean to be a man, in this age of mechanized power, of industrialization and of machines, where everything is automated and you’re there only to push the button?

What does it mean to be a man, with each one living an independent life, yet being so inevitably dependent on everything and everyone else?

What does it mean to be a man, when you’re an island and a parasite at the same time?

What does it mean to be a man, when you have no answers to any of the questions above?